[Editor’s Note: The Socialist wishes to thank Autumn Minery and Bryer Sousa for this in depth three part interview with SPUSA VP candidate Angela Nicole Walker.]
It’s Liberation that we want; it’s Liberation for every body…
A Conversation with 2016 SPUSA VP Candidate Angela Nicole Walker by Autumn Minery & Bryer Sousa
Bryer: This interview is about you. But in order to get deeper into conversation, it might help in terms of your understanding that I can sympathize with such a cause. I come from a red/black background of anarcho-syndicalism. So I have always been forced to be skeptical of working with other groups, due to the tradition of anarchists collaborating with opportunists during the Spanish Revolution among other endeavors. I have always had a kind of a hope that that red/green alliance could really flourish.
Angela: Because so many people are involved!
Angela: When the people the Green Party actually engage; they have a lot of pull. Our issues and our focuses might be different, but at the end of the day, our issues are very similar. To me, it only made sense, and it has nothing to do with grand standing. I have no problem being the person in the back that’s a pair of hands; I have no problem with that. So, I come to this thinking that other people operate in the same way, and seeing that they don’t is truly discouraging.
Bryer: It is hard for me to get out to talk about such things, but ever sense Ferguson and even a bit before that, I have been following a stream of violence perpetrated against black Americans, and the history of it as well. I had engaged with helping a Professor in a group at the University of Maine; we are in the Maine Peace Action Comity and we wrote sort of an expose of the truths. We tried to clarify the history of Malcolm X’s legacy and give his philosophies a standing, for they are usually ridiculed and also looked by those who quote the non-threating Martin Luther King quotes, some of which were cherry-picked from speeches of socialist underpinnings.
Angela: No they gloss over it. Like you said, they gloss over the later speeches where not only is he explicitly socialist, but, in his way, King was calling for revolution; King was calling for an uprooting of this current system that you cannot fix. It is very convenient, especially in the way of Dallas and all the other things that just happened, that the folks are bringing the quotes that you are talking about. I am not turning the other cheek. I already know enough about Dr. King to know that such selections do not do justice to all that he said.
Bryer: In Maine, 96% of the population is white. How do people in Maine get to appreciate what exactly is going on? Even if you go to the poorest parts of Maine, they aren’t urban. They are not subjected to that kind of environment, where you have unimaginable poverty and confinement between families that are trying to survive; activity that gives a different appreciation for the poverty I suppose. It is two different lanes where, if you’re a farmer in poverty you’re not worried about your children getting involved with people who would exploit them. Especially for me, who didn’t have a male role model, I grew up kind of close to a city and I looked up to groups of individuals who wanted to exploit my naivety. If you are a single mom living in the city vs. a single mom living on a farm, you don’t have to worry about your child being involved with people who want to use them to justify the end, such as selling drugs etc., even when selling drugs might be the only way of getting the income. How do you branch out to New England groups who may need to empathize in alternative ways?
Angela: Well my thing is that the first thing people need to be willing to do, and for some people that’s a stretch, is be able to see other people as human, even if they don’t look like you. There was a discussion that I had with one of my sisters the other day, where I expressed that I have never known what it is like to look at other person and not see a human being. I don’t know how you do that. I don’t know how you make that disconnect in your head, and maybe it is because I am black and that we are socialized in a different way, I don’t know. But you don’t have to look like me to make me feel something for you. You don’t have to look like me for me to be willing to stand up against an injustice. I don’t understand, and it is very hard for me to process people who operate that way and how they move through life. How do you do that? How do you constantly deny other people’s humanity? The same things that hurt me, hurt you. Even though you now I bring my race, my gender, my age, my orientation, all of those things to the table, I am still person and there are things that we can unite around as people. People need clean water. People need decent air. People need soil not to be contaminated. Every person, every living thing, deserves a safe place to live. No person should go to bed afraid of violence. No person should be deprived of the right to make a living wage if they are working. Those things are universal human rights and we really have to work on seeing each other with humanity. I’ve seen it, explicitly when you’re saying Black Lives Matter, and somebody is saying no it doesn’t, or, you don’t have the right to exist… I don’t even know what to do with that.
Bryer: It’s a tradition of times even after WWII when, after the Nuremberg trials and the formations of a United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights… if only that charter was observed then people would have a safe people to live.
Angela: Thank you!
Bryer: It has been there, and people treat it as this odd idea that we have this right to live, work and experience the human condition. It has been there since said declaration was drafted and it just has never been observed, which is most unfortunate…
Angela: It’s outrageous! Who is anyone of us to tell someone else that they are not human? That they do not deserve the right to a dignified life of your their own making, whatever the parameters are? Where the hell do we get off? You don’t do that!
Bryer: When there is a disconnect, and there has been some great papers done of it that show that underneath the surface of the general population of the US, there is a lot of these feelings of wanting clean air and wanting clean drinking water, so much so that when you look at the financing of politicians, it could be 80% of the population voting for this thing to be changed, but then there is lobbying that is allowed to be infiltrated, allowing people to not hear anything.
American Bureaucrats claim to be part of a representative democracy but really, when The Constitution was drafted, let alone the fact that slaves or black Americans or Native Americans weren’t even considered in the formulation of The Constitution… nor were women, only property holding land owners of Caucasian decent were considered. The architects of policy really thought through the question of how do we eliminate the voice and participation in decision making of the bewildered masses, so that they do not have a say? How do you envision a structure for observing this? Would it be a federation of local community organizers who would work together to have a unified council? Does that make sense?
Angela: It actually does. But at the same time I don’t know how that would look because one thing I think is a weakness on the Lefts part, or people of good will, is that we don’t work together. I don’t think it is a utopian idea, but an idea of all of these folks coming together and seeing that this is what this should look like; this is how it should run. I don’t know… we have all of these different tables, not necessarily different stakes. Certainly, different tables that people are sitting at to get things done.
Bryer: It seems as though, to add to the weakness of a Left in the West, not only is there a lack of communication with each other in a lot of respects, but it seems as though the Left has drifted towards the neoliberal agenda. It has abandoned its natural audience, which would be the working class. It would have been the IWW, it would have been Eugene V. Debs, it would have been Emma Goldman; they were in the tradition of fighting for the working class. After WWII you get a global domination in terms of economics that led the hypocritical liberals to think that we can have workers from any country serve organizations It seems as though we are not only faced with a challenge of how to overcome this in our own nation, but also globally.
Angela: One thing we can’t let get away from us, if we are who we say we are, is our alliance with the working class and the poor around the world; especially the poor, and also saying that if exploitation by capitalist entities isn’t acceptable for us, it is unacceptable globally. We don’t accept our way of life being based on the exploitation of other people. That is not acceptable.
Bryer: I think, and I don’t mean to speak on your behalf, but if I may suggest, not only is Black Lives Matter a movement of addressing institutional brutality and subjugation of the black community in the US, unbelievably enough, tactics are grotesque and the only difference between now and ten years ago is that there are now cameras to capture it.
Angela: When you’re talking about, even though it sounds cliché, when you’re talking about Black Lives Matter and the work the they do, it is a global issue.
Bryer: You are able to stand in solidarity with those who are exploited to that degree because you understand it?
Angela: If that exploitation is unacceptable for my babies, it’s unacceptable for anybody’s babies. We just don’t do that. It isn’t necessary. I don’t have to have an Indonesian child paid five cents a day to make my clothes. It doesn’t have to happen. To have children in Africa who are losing their childhoods harvesting the cocoa beans but have never had chocolate… it’s unacceptable. It shouldn’t have to happen this way. It’s liberation that we want; it is liberation for everybody…